MD-PhD Program Graduates' Engagement in Research: Results of a National Study

Dorothy A. Andriole, Douglas Grbic, Jodi Yellin, Ross McKinney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose To determine if specialty, among other professional development and demographic variables, predicted MD-PhD program graduates' research engagement. Method The authors merged the 2015 Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) National MD-PhD Program Outcomes Survey database with selected data from the AAMC Student Records System, Graduation Questionnaire, and Graduate Medical Education (GME) Track Resident Survey. At the person level, they tested variables of interest for independent associations with MD-PhD graduates' research engagement using chi-square, Pearson correlations, and analysis of variance tests and logistic and linear regressions. Results Of 3,297 MD-PhD graduates from 1991-2010 who were no longer in GME training in 2015, 78.0% (2,572/3,297) reported research engagement. In models controlling for several variables, a neurology (vs internal medicine; adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 2.48; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.60-3.86) or pathology (vs internal medicine; AOR: 1.89; 95% CI: 1.33-2.68) specialty, full-time faculty/research scientist career intention at graduation (vs all other career intentions; AOR: 3.04; 95% CI: 2.16-4.28), and ≥ 1 year of GME research (vs no GME research year[s]; AOR: 2.45; 95% CI: 1.96-3.06) predicted a greater likelihood of research engagement. Among graduates engaged in research, the mean percentage of research time was 49.9% (standard deviation 30.1%). Participation in ≥ 1 year of GME research (beta [β] coefficient: 7.99, P <.001) predicted a higher percentage of research time, whereas a radiation oncology (β: -28.70), diagnostic radiology (β: -32.92), or surgery (β: -29.61) specialty, among others, predicted a lower percentage of research time (each P <.001 vs internal medicine). Conclusions Most MD-PhD graduates were engaged in research, but the extent of their engagement varied substantially among specialties. Across specialties, participation in research during GME may be one factor that sustains MD-PhD graduates' subsequent early- to midcareer research engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-548
Number of pages9
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


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